I slice the rosy seabass to pickle in the salted koji mold that I will make later.
Q: Is there a knack to preparing the rosy seabass?
A: Chef Mitsuda:
Firstly, there’s the need to know where the bones are located. Japan has many types of fish throughout the seasons, and different fish need to be prepared in different ways. Therefore it’s important to commit to memory the different fish you’ll come into contact with in each season.
I blend together tomatoes, mirin, sake, sugar, and salted koji mold.
To this mixture, I add the rosy seabass that I just sliced, to pickle it. This completes the preliminary preparation for this dish.
All that’s left is to cook the pickled fish at the time I’m going to serve it.
Changing the subject a little bit, I don’t just cook a fish and serve it; at Sakurae, I serve dishes that reconstruct Japanese cuisine.
I am currently thinking about participating in the movement to teach Japanese cooking to people from overseas in the hope of exporting and expanding Japanese cuisine. Japan is lucky to be blessed with a natural environment where ingredients are fresh. The ingredients are delicious as they are. There are aspects of Japanese cuisine that rely on that fact.
Therefore, if you attempt to serve Japanese food abroad, you’ll find yourself wanting to bring Japanese ingredients. But in that situation, establishing and expanding Japanese cuisine in that country is not possible.
Even with this grilled fish dish, it is not simply a case of cooking it then serving it, I want to turn its preparation into a systemized recipe, so that even if the fish or other ingredients change, you can still make something that is distinctly a Japanese dish.
With the pickling ingredients as well, you can use pineapple as a substitute for the mirin, or mango or strawberries instead of the tomatoes. It is possible to make something that you can call Japanese cuisine using the ingredients available in a particular locale. I want to convey that sort of cooking method.
I thought of this baked salt as an accent to go with the grilled rosy seabass.
One of my staff is better at making this than me, so I will leave it up to them (laughs).
I dissolve top-grade rice flour, Japanese pepper, and salt in water. Then, I fry this mixture in a frying pan.
So, I heat the frying pan, and spread oil thinly across the surface.
If there was no oil, the salt would stick and I wouldn’t be able to get it off, but if there is too much oil, it won’t become crunchy.
Once oiled and hot, I will heat the mixture in the pan.
Spreading it thinly across the surface, I heat it until the moisture has evaporated and it goes hard, being careful not to burn it. It is ready once it has become like a thin sheet of paper.
By doing this, it becomes something in which you can enjoy the texture, and aromatic flavor of the Japanese pepper.
I plate the pickled, grilled rosy seabass together with the special baked salt I just made in the frying pan.
This is a dish in which you can enjoy the two contrasting crisp textures of the salt and the skin of the fish.
I am always aware of not showing off the unconventional. While true that the dishes I serve at Sakurae incorporate some strange contrivances, they are all done in order to bring the ingredients I have in front of me to life.
Therefore, even with the dishes you’ve just seen, though they are complex in their preparation, they do not lose any of their simplicity.
I think you’d be able to tell if you tried them, but with both the conger pike and the rosy seabass, you can simply appreciate the inherent flavor of the ingredients themselves.
I want to continue making this type of cuisine.